As an aspiring rapper coming of age in late-Nineties Harlem, Smoke DZA listened closely to the work of New York hip-hop luminaries: There was Jay Z and Notorious B.I.G., of course, but the rapper born Sean Pompey was also a self-admitted disciple of fellow Harlemites Dipset. To that end, Smoke DZA is now paying homage to the iconic crew with “Ghost of Dipset,” a syrupy, soulful track off his new album, Dream.ZONE.Achieve, that features a potent verse from one of the crew’s principal members, Cam’ron.
“It’s very surreal!” Smoke DZA tells Rolling Stone of working alongside an idol, one with whom he’ll be releasing a collaborative LP later in the year. “Ghost of Dipset,” DZA says, sounds to him like “an old Arsonist Dipset joint. When I was recording it I was like, ‘Man, it feels like the ghost of Dipset is in the room.'”
DZA was first formally introduced to Cam’ron by Roc-A-Fella records co-founder Damon Dash when performing at a showcase hosted by producer Ski Beatz at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge last summer. “After I got off the stage,” recalls DZA, “Cam came up to me and was like, ‘You really dope, bro. You’ve got the shit!'”
Since meeting, Smoke DZA and Cam’ron have becomes fast friends, the latter even allowing DZA to sit in on studio sessions with him and Jim Jones.
“I was just sitting there watching them work,” DZA says. “It’s crazy that I’m even a part of this!”